The cost of helping loved ones pay for long term care seems to be going up.

Researchers at John Hancock Life Insurance Company, Boston, a unit of Manulife Financial Corp., Toronto, have published figures supporting that conclusion in a summary of results from a recent survey of 1,000 U.S. residents ages 21 to 75.

The percentage of participants who said relatives or friends have needed long term care has increased to 53% this year, from 42% in 1998.

When the researchers looked at participants who said relatives or friends had needed long term care, the researchers found that about 62% said they or their spouses had helped provide hands-on assistance, up from 49% in 1998.

About 30% of the participants with close exposure to LTC needs have helped pay for long term care, down from 33% in 1998.

Although the percentage of financial support providers seems to have fallen slightly, the percentage of financial support providers who paid $3,000 or more per month increased to 11%, from 2%.